Monday, March 31, 2008

888 is Great!!! Part 1

At 4:20am the alarm went off on Saturday morning and although I had about 4 restless hours of tossing and turning I jumped outta bed. I was finally going to find out how far along my marathon training really had come. Today was the Just A Short Run 30K in Allentown, PA.

I was out the door and on my way to meet MN at the coffee shop by 4:45am. We had planned on meeting at 5:15am sharp! I did not want to be late. As I drove I began worrying I had forgotten my gloves and my headband so I rummaged through my gear bag, until, voila, found them. Traffic was super light, but there was a bad accident on the freeway and all but one lane was closed so I quickly squeezed by. The rest of the drive was uneventful and as I was flying down Fairmount Blvd about .5m from the shop my phone said 5:14am. Dammit, I always feel like the white rabbit in "Alice in Wonderland", bustling here and there and always in a hurry. I pulled in exactly at 5:15am, about 30 seconds before MN. I jumped in her car and we were on our way before 5:20am.

The drive was surprisingly quick and we made great time. MN and I both wanted to make a pit-stop at the McDonald's before heading into the park. I also bought some H2O and wolfed down a Nutri-grain bar. I had also eaten oatmeal and coffee earlier, but this was a long race for me, so I wanted to be completely fueled. MN found a VIP parking spot right across from the registration area so we were able to avoid the shuttles and/or long run to the start. YAY! Excited we jumped out of the car and headed down to get our gear.

OMG!! It was supposed to be in the low 30's, but it was in the 20's and it was cold. Immediately, I began rethinking my racing attire. I could be too cold for a mile or so, before heating up, but not the entire race. It was over 18 freaking miles!! But then again, I couldn't be comfortable for 3-4 miles and then start roasting like a pig for the next 15+ either. Ahh, the life and death situations of a runner ;-) Help came from a gentleman standing in shorts behind me. He said I'd be fine in my current attire once the sun came up. I breathed a sigh of relief and opted to wait it out. I picked up my chip, bib and race bag. Bet you can't guess the number...yep that's right....888....that's me today! We headed back to the car to get changed and I donned my new racing jersey from Achilles over my dri-fit shirt. I thought, "I am on a racing team this year and I better not f#ck up this race." We stopped at the bathroom again and headed out for a 2 mile warm-up. We ran a small part of the course that was fairly flat. I had checked the elevation maps and knew there was a big hill around mile 2 and a few rollers throughout. The course was one loop of 3.6 miles and 3 loops of 5 miles. There were a little over a 1000 runners today. I figured most were in the 1/2 mary, but I knew there would be a hundred or so in the 30k. I was really getting nervous now. I told MN I had to go to the bathroom again. What was wrong with me. I never have to pee this much before a race. Had I overhydrated myself? Was I doomed to pee my pants sometime today? I hit the porta-john again. The announcer was calling for racers to get to their proper starting areas as the 1/2 mary and 5k runners were to start a half mile farther up than the 30K runners. The race was going to start late... oh God... I had to pee again. MN must have thought I had a leak in my bladder. I hoped when the race started my nervousness would subside and I would not have the urge to pee every 5 minutes otherwise it could make for a very, very long race.

The 30K runners gathered behing the enterprise van shaking and jittering before the start of the race. The director came over and finally that word we had all been anxiously anticipating was hear.... GO!!! I hit my garmin and was off. It was a little tight at the start, but I needed to run an easy pace so it helped keep me from running too fast. MN and I got seperated almost immediately, but we managed to exchange good lucks. I checked my pace...sub-8:00. Oh geez, you're not running a 5k, slow the heck down. It was hard, I was psyched. It was a beautiful day and everybody was happy and you could just feel the excitement.

Mile 1 was pretty flat and went by unbelievably fast. I checked my Garmin...8:26. That was a little too fast. The plan was to run the first 7 miles between 8:45-9:00 minutes, the next 7 between 8:30-8:45 and the last 4.6 miles were to be whatever was left in the tank. Too many, too often go out too hard and die. This was a "B" race for me. My goal was to run a smart race, be patient and negative split it.

Side note: I have been running for 3 years now and seem to be having what most refer to as a "breakout year." I want to focus on learning what running is all about. This year I want to
-negative split my races
-learn how to surge and break away from runners that are trying to stay with me
-hold onto those that are trying to do the same thing to me
-remained focused on my race, form and breathing without letting my mind wander
-always remind myself that running is a luxury/gift and never forget it

Ok back to the race. Mile 2 according to the elevation chart had the one steep hill. We were already climbing and I asked, "is this the hill?" Someone next to me responded "yes." Oh well, this wasn't bad at all, but then we made a left turn and there it was. The guy had been wrong. The hill still lay ahead and it was definately steep. Here is where we began catching a large number of 1/2 marathoners and 5ker's. I relaxed and took the hill as easily as my body would let me. My breathing did not seem to be labored at all as I reached the crest and turned for the also steep downhill. I don't particularly care for steep downhills anymore than the steep uphills either. I hate hurt my leg badly on a downhill at the Akron Mary a few years ago and to this day I am still wary how deceptively damaging they can be. I leaned back and could hear my feet slapping the ground like a duck. Uuuggghhh! Mile 2 was 9:07. Not bad. 2 miles down 16.6 to go.
The next mile was forgetable and flat. All I know is I circled back to the start and before I knew
it, there was 3.6 in the bank and only three, 5 mile loops remained.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

St. Malachi 5 Miler

Ahhh, St. Malachi. I love and hate this race. I ran it 2 years ago and to this day was still tormented by the steep uphills. I had however, signed up for the road race series again and promising a few friends I would be there to run made this year INEVITABLE.
I missed the pre-registration date for this race so getting there about an hour before my race was the plan. I hurried to the church and was pleasantly surprised to find NO LINES! I was in and out in less than 5 minutes. I stopped to use the porta-john quick and then headed to the car to drop off my stuff before my warm-up. I saw Daisy and Solar Squirrel also walking back to their car. I smiled and said a quick "hey."
Now, warming up, I was having trouble deciding what to wear. I was cold, but knew I would probably heat up, just like an iron after the first mile or so and if I dressed too warm I would be sweating my arse off and plus I wanted to be as light as possible.
Aaarrrrgggghhhh!!! I couldn't decide, so I wore all my clothes for the warm-up and figured I'd see how hot I got after 20 minutes. I warmed up by running back and forth across my favorite Detroit Bridge....haha. I finally opted for what you see in the picture and headed to the porta-john AGAIN with less than 10 minutes before start time.
I did my thing with about 2 minutes to spare. I was nervous AGAIN. CS and ML were both here and although we are all friends, the teasing had once again occurred and I was a bit worried that my last race had been a fluke. I was hoping to hold an 8:00 pace.
There were A LOT of people. They were on Main where the race started and on the adjoining side street. I weaved my way to Main and toward the front. I did not want to get trapped in the crowd.
The first mile was downhill, so I knew I would be kind of fast. I was okay with that. My goal was to stay relaxed and run at about a 6-7 on the PE scale. I wanted to avoid getting boxed in and run the course from corner to corner. Just as I thought the first mile was fast. Time: 7:12.
I was feeling just dandy, but I always feel that way after mile 1. It's mile 1.5-2 where I blow up and fade. I have been trying to tune-in to my body, arms at sides nice and relaxed, stride length is even, breathing is even, head is up etc., etc. Mile 2 was pretty flat and I felt okay. The crowd had already started to thin out. Wow, some people really do take off like bats out of hell ;-) I saw e-speed taking pics and I hollered "Why aren't you running" and waved. She yelled something back and said I looked good. Time: 7:44...not too bad. I was talking and waving and still significantly down from my 8:00 pace.
Oh, Oh, OOOUUUCCCHHH....mile 3. It seems like another 2 mile fairly flat and a little turny, but no it's not. There is about .3-.4 miles that begins a little uphill before you make a turn and then WHAM, it is a very steep upgrade. This is 1 of the 2 hills that will make or break your race. I grabbed some H2O and then attacked the hill. Head up nice and relaxed I told myself. People around me seemed to be fading a little. I just stared at the top of the hill knowing the reward that was waiting for me. Time: 8:11.... yuck, where had that come from.
And then there it was...the downhill. YAY! I was excited. I knew this might be a fast mile too, so I relaxed and let my feet do the work. Here is where I saw the people behind me making there way to the hill I had just climbed and surprisingly, there were a lot. I even saw the couch potatos that I used to run with and try to beat. Time: 7:33... okay much better.
The last mile was here to make or break me. I did not want to lose it here. I knew it was flat most of the way back with a big turn and a big hill. I was fading. I could feel my breathing was changing. My focus was shot. I wanted the race over now. I was drifting in and out with my thoughts and I knew every time I did that my form would falter and I was losing time. I had to keep my head in the game. I forced myself to look up and chase people ahead of me. I figured I had about 2-3 minutes to go because I had not run the big corner yet, but to my surprise the Hermes guy was standing at the bottom of the hill yelling "less than a 1/4 mile uphill to the finish." Shit, where had the big corner gone. I picked it up right then and there. I saw ML's wife and the walrus cheering for me at the top of the hill. I pumped my arms and ran for the clock. Time: 7:35.
I was beat, but not only had I broken 40:00 .... I HAD BROKEN 39:00!!! OFFICIAL TIME: 38:18! I had run a 7:40 pace at the 5k a month ago and I did it again today with a 5 miler. I was so happy I quickly changed and rushed down to the local bar to get my Guiness.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Spiderwick Chronicles

Jared, Simon and Mallory of course save the world from the evil clutches of Mulgarath... pheeww!

Last night the Walrus, me and the kids hit the movie theater with our popcorn and soda around 7:25pm. The movie started with the backstory of Arthur Spiderwick and his discovery of the world of fairies and goblins. He recorded all his findings in a field guide and then sealed it up and had it hidden by his faithful friend Thimbletack, who consequently reminds me of the walrus. The movie then fast forwards to the present day which is about 80 years later.

The great-great niece and nephews Mallory, Jared and Simon are moving into Arthurs house and they immediatley discover strange things. There are eerie noises in the house, things are missing and Mallory's hair is attacked! Jared eventually finds the book and ignores the warning not to open it taped to the front cover breaking the protective spell and alerting Mulgarath and his evil goblins that the book is active again.

The children discover the new world one adventure at a time by riding a griffin, finding their great aunt, escaping from the goblins and finding Arthur Spiderwick himself. This all culminates into the head-to-head battle at the end and the coming together of the family, including their protective and loving mother.

All in all I loved the movie and so did the kids. It was captivating for the adults yet, it followed a simple enough story line for the younger children and had very memorable and magical characters.